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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. first up tonight, a conversation with the president and ceo of opportunity finance network, mark pinksy, providing financing to low income communities to help provide success for those often left out of the economic engine. also tonight, a woman who became an important footnote in american history, essie mae washington-williams, who, tenures ago, revealed herself to be the secret daughter of strom thurmond, news she shared with us when we were first on the air, as we celebrate now 10 years on this network. this is coming up, right now.
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>> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station by viewers like you. thank you. tavis: mark pinksy is the president and ceo of a nonprofit
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designed to align money and capital with political, economic, and social justice, opportunity finance network. ofm, and i am sure we will get to that. good to have you on the program. >> good to be here. tavis: i am not the only one continuing to do as much as we can on the issue of poverty, and this includes so much. what often does not get talked about is the fight back. i do not want to be guilty of only talking about the ugly and the bad but not talk about the significant work done by those who are trying to dig their way out over this hole that so many of all colors find themselves in. your company hopes to try to alleviate this pain and suffering. let me talk to you about what ofm does and get some specifics about the fight back on poverty.
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>> i appreciate your pain attention to this issue because it is one that often gets lost. opportunity finance network has what is called the community finance development institutions, or cdfi's, and they create opera jt is -- they create opportunities. it is fundamentally the idea that capital too often is a problem, and certainly when you are dealing with poverty, it is a problem, but we are working across the country, all 50 states, to try to create opportunities where there are not any. >> two things about capital. i have said that there is nothing wrong with capitalism, but they get the capital, and we get the "ism," the racism, the cronyism, the good old boy-ism.
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i had a nobel laureate on the show who is famous with his microfinance in. especially how we can align poor people with the capital they need to exercise their agency and their right to self- determination. >> this has given us a chance to prove what we do. you can lend money in distressed communities, and there are more and more distressed communities lately, and they will do something. whether it is a non-profit, that it is a well-run non-profit, that what they are doing is proving what people think cannot be done is possible, so we are doing a little bit of impossible every day. if you can prove that you can lend to small businesses when everyone out there says you cannot do it, it will not work, there are no deals out there,
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then you can prove it is possible to men to poor people, men to people kept out of the system, and create opportunities, and we have done that. through this recession, we have had very good results, not just with the housing units created and the nonprofits we have been able to support but also in the payback. we lend money out. we need to get it back. our rate is about 1.7%. that is about as good as banks do in good times. the point is proven. you can do this. tavis: the second point about capitalism, there are a number of people who feel this. they are not all crazy. my friend, the filmmaker michael moore, we have this conversation on whether or not it is time to rethink capitalism. you say that, and all of a sudden, you shot half of the room down.
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do not hate on rich people for being successful. what would you say to those who are increasingly becoming concerned about whether or not capitalism is at the epicenter of what is causing the destruction in our country. >> i think what has gone on is you have this ideology of capitalism rather than the reality. we have this idea that you have self correcting markets. self correcting markets as the epitome of capitalism. it is not true. it is just not true. capitalism can work, but it needs to work in different ways that people believed it works. as advocates talk about it. so what i would say is let's figure out to connect these. cdfi's are creating opportunities where conventional, mainstream thinkers are saying it would not work. i was at a meeting at the federal reserve in washington, and all of the bankers got up -- not all, but somebody up and
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said if there are any deals out there, we would finance them, and the fact that we are not financing them is proof that we are not out there. meanwhile, we are doing billions of dollars per year. it is out there if you know where to look. this notion of a mining capital with justice is really this idea that we can demonstrate that capitalism can work in different ways. it can work in ways that are more sustainable, more just. >> this is part of the system we live under, that the big boys have hijacked the system. you can go to the federal reserve and say, incredulously, if there were credible businesses to finance, we would be financing them, and then you guys stand up on the other side of the room and put out a long list of companies that you're helping to get up. they have hijacked the system, it is not where it should be. >> if we could be lovers, we
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consider it a success if we go into a market, and we work there, and some of the big guys want to come in. we do not think that is a bad thing. but understand that when times get bad, they will want to get out of the market quickly. i talk about it as moving the margins. outside the margins, where conventional things go. we are happy to have the banks and the others moved in. but in bad times, and we just saw this in the recession, they pull back, so how do you help? >> -- tavis: what kind of role, what kind of access, what kind of insurance do organizations like ofm have in washington? some folks feel that it is big money, big business. what do people like you, the are trying to move the margins, what kind of access do you have?
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>> we have a lot more access than we used to, for one reason and one reason alone. we have performed. we have been doing this for 30 years. slowly. we created a few programs that and peopleh cdfi's, say, "let's do that over here." people pay attention. we think there are so many things that policy can be doing to align capital. tavis: like? >> there is this thing called the capital gains tax. you have heard of it. we want a community gains tax. one requires the investor to be patient. what we do is profitable, but it is not profit maximizing. if you are willing to invest in something that is profitable, in the community is getting stronger, wherever that is, whether it is urban, rural, or native. tavis: is there pushback?
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or is not being considered? >> it is really not being considered. the capital gains tax. we want to see something good, like the community gains tax, and we want it to be right away, but it takes time. we are willing to be patient, to a point, but when we prove something, when we see it works, we are willing to push really hard. tavis: this is my axe to grind, but when you say it takes time, this is what bankers me. it does not take time for wall street to get what they want. they say, "if you do not give me what we want, the whole country is going under." people stay up all night trying to figure out how to give them money. >> when i am not on camera, i get impatient, too. tavis: i have got to learn that. >> you are good at it.
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we will keep pushing. a lot of good things have taken longer than it should have, and we think this is taking longer than it should, but, you know what? we are not going to stop pushing. we are not going to stop teaching. tavis: i am not saying this for bragging sick. give us some examples. >> absolutely. it is a transaction we did in harlem, the family health center of harlem, i believe it is called. there was a family health center there that was shutting down. it meant about 15,000 patients were not going to be able to get health care. we were able to get financing. not only were we able to finance it, we were able to increase it. they are providing more services than they were before. they are creating jobs as a result of it, and they also have
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started a program which i love, which is a residency program. they are training doctors and dentists in urban health care. that is one transaction on the big end of it. another transaction that we think about is there is a credit union in dirham, north carolina, -- during him, north carolina. -- durham, north carolina. what the community realized is that there was a rise in crime on friday nights and among latinos, so they started this credit union. it is one of the fastest-growing in the united states. it has 11 branches across the state, some 50,000 members. there are people now who have mortgages. there are latino workers that have mortgages through this bank that would not otherwise have. we are doing micro enterprise all over this country. we are doing small businesses all over this country.
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health care is going to be a big issue for this country, obviously, and community health centers are really going to be on the front line. that is an area where there will be a lot more activity. we do $5 billion of financing per year. we do something like 180 transactions every business day. it does not get noticed. that is why i am glad to be here. sometimes the things that people think are impossible are possible. the reality is in capitalism, we think what we are doing is impossible, and it is not. tavis: one of the things we want to continue doing on this program, whether or we are writing a poverty book or whatever, we want to showcase ideas that do it. i get tired hearing folks in washington saying that nothing works unless it is connected to a big business or a big bank. this is an idea.
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opportunity finance network. we are delighted to have you on to showcase the good work that they are doing to reduce and eradicate poverty in this country. thanks for your work, and thanks for being here. up next, we will remember the remarkable journey of essie mae washington-williams. stay with us. during this 10th anniversary season here on pbs, we have been looking back at some of our memorable conversations over the last decade, and tonight, i wanted to share one with you from our first week on the air, january 2004, and a company like facebook did not even exist. facebook was founded one week after our premier on pbs. we were paid a visit by an unlikely public figure that year, essie mae washington- williams. for years, she harbored the secret that she was the daughter of segregationist strom
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thurmond. following his death, she decided to tell the world her story, including a conversation with me in january of 2004. miss williams, it is nice to talk to you. thank you for coming on. >> thank you. tavis: this press conference a few weeks ago was a remarkable event. there have been a few days to put distance between that moment and now, when you came out to the world with this secret you have been harboring. how do you feel that the world now knows your secret, all of your business? >> i feel fine. in fact, i feel somewhat relieved to get this out of my system. tavis: when you say you feel relieved to get it out of your system, tell us why. >> well, because it was something i never talked about, even the people had tried to get me to talk about it. i did not want to talk about it. i thought that after talking with my children perhaps i should get it out because it is
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a part of history, and so we made the arrangements to do that. tavis: there are a lot of folks in the country now, white folk, brown folk, i suspect all kinds of americans, who wonder why it is you have been so deferential to this man, who, as i mentioned a moment ago, many recall as a segregationist, and i am sure you are a wonderful person, and i am delighted to meet you, but a lot of people are wondering why you are being so nice to this guy who was such a staunch segregationist. why it's so nice to this guy? >> when i met him, i was 16 years old. my mother introduced us. he was a nice person to me. as far as i was concerned, those
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that raised me were my parents. to know that this was my parents was it -- was my father was meaningful. tavis: there are so many parts of the story i found it amazing, not the least that you found at 16 that you were, in fact, half white. what kind of revelation must that have been, at 16, to discover this part of your history that you were totally unaware of? >> well, i never thought i was have white or whatever. color was not something i thought about, although i knew i was the fairest one in my family because they were all of darker complexion, including my mother. when i met him, of course, i was surprised, because she had never said anything about his collar. -- color. i was happy to meet him.
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it was not about his color. tavis: you have lived a full and rich life, starting with teaching for over 30 years. >> yes, when i graduated from high school, i lived in new york for about a year, and i decided i wanted to go away to college, and i had not decided on a special college at that time, and i was in touch with my father, frequently in touch with him, and he had recommended the school down there in south carolina, which had a very good reputation, and i applied, and i went down in august of 1946 and started at the college. lots of people, they were very fine people, and i was very happy to be there. even though i had lived in the south, i left there at six months of age, but upon returning, it was a wonderful experience.
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tavis: i wanted to ask, but you have already answered it, how involved senators strom thurmond was in your life. you say he was involved and wanted to be hell. once he reached out and knew who he was, did you feel free to reach out to him, to ask him advice, to ask his counsel on things? >> yes. that is one of the things he did. he gave me lots of guidance. whenever i wanted to be in touch with him, i would call him. if he was not available, he would always call back. we were in touch. tavis: from your vantage point, how widespread was this story for you? before you became public, there were people who would get you to talk about this. how many people knew about this, do you think, before you came out to the world? >> well, i am not sure how many.
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i do know when the rumors started when i was on campus, all of the students talked about it, but they never approached me and asked me anything about it. however, there were rumors, and they would tell me the things said. of course, i would just laugh. i never talked about the situation to other people. tavis: i want to honor my agreement with your attorney, who is sitting off camera, who may throw something at me if i asked a question that we had agreed i would not, so i do not want to ask about his politics, but i do want to ask a question about how you in your own spirit, in your own person, were able to juxtaposed this person being a loving, if you will, and accessible father once he reached out to him and the contact was made, with his politics. did it concern you about the guy
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you had concerned -- had a relationship with was " with you but was pushing a relationship that was and difficult to what is in the best interests of the african american people? >> i was in a student in college and was not into politics. however, when i heard some other remarks that were made, i did ask him about his stand on racism and so forth, and he explained to me that that is the way things were in the self, and he did not seem to want to expelled on that too much, and i did not question him much further. but we did talk about that, and i thought there may have been something to do more positive, and he did, but it was much later. tavis: yes, much later. i just better late than never. >> yes, in the 1940's. tavis: you kept working on him.
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>> yes. tavis: let me ask you what you think about what this revelation does about his legacy. it is one thing, and i am glad you are on, to tell your side of the story, but now that this man is gone, what do you think this does to his legacy, as it were? but since this has happened, people sort of look at him in a different light. they are not as harsh about the way they feel about him because they found out that he had done some wonderful things that many of them did not know about. they knew about desegregation and the racism and so forth, but when they found out that he had done so many things about black people, setting up this school, and as a senator, he was the first to have a black administrative aide. none of the others had that. many african-american students,
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there were many people. he was a very good man. tavis: i can see on the one hand one who found herself in her situation could have been an embittered and could have held a grudge their entire life, but you have gone on, as i said, to have a very productive life, including being involved in your church. tell us about the role fate has been playing in your life, keeping the secret. >> i never even thought about wanting to reveal anything, although i had been questioned by magazines and some of the newspaper people to give this story. and they wanted to know about the relationship. i said he was a friend of the family, which he was all of those years. a friend of the family. tavis: your standard line was that he was a friend of the family. >> yes.
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and i did not admit it at that time. i did not admit it at all. of course, the church, along to the congregation of the church of christian fellowship. i've long since i was in los angeles, 40 years, and i have always been very active in my church. i worked with the sunday school, and i worked with the public relations board, and i eventually became a moderator, and a moderator is an assistant to the pastor. at that time, it was shockley. there were a few problems in the church, but they were eventually resolved, and later, i was honored by the church, back in 1997, i believe it was. tavis: if there is a lesson for america out of your story, what do you think that is? >> thinking about that, i think my having come forth to reveal my story should be a lesson to
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all americans and help americans, black, white, and all others to live together in unity. i think that is one of the big problems that we have had in this country. we need to close that gap. tavis: i am glad you came on to talk to me. essie mae washington-williams passed away at the age of 87. that is our show for this time. we will see you next time. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a the book of mormon star josh gad. that is next time. we will see you then.
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>> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. >> be more.
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Tavis Smiley
PBS February 13, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PST

News/Business. (2013) Mark Pinsky, Opportunity Finance Network; tribute to Essie Mae Washington-Williams. New. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 6, Washington 4, Strom Thurmond 3, North Carolina 3, Tavis Smiley 2, Pbs 2, Essie Mae 2, Williams 2, U.s. 2, Harlem 2, Los Angeles 2, Essie Mae Washington-williams 1, Pushback 1, Facebook 1, Who 1, United States 1, Pinksy 1, Ofm 1, Smiley 1, Mark Pinksy 1
Network PBS
Duration 00:30:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 19 (153 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 720
Pixel height 480

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on 2/13/2013